(BaseballStL) -- The Cardinals will tab rookie Michael Wacha to pitch Game 4 of the NLDS in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Wacha, who was available but went unused out of the bullpen in Game 1, hasn’t pitched since missing his first ever no-hitter by one out in a 2-0 win over the Nationals on September 24. A Game 4 start marks a span of 13 days between appearances for the 22-year-old rookie.
Game 4 will also mark Wacha’s third appearance this season against the Pirates since making his major league debut on May 30. He hurled two scoreless innings with four strikeouts in a relief appearance on August 14, and more recently, allowed only two hits and two walks over seven scoreless innings on September 8. Both appearances came at Busch Stadium.
Manager Mike Matheny said the decision to start Wacha over fellow rookie Shelby Miller came down to who was the hotter pitcher.
“Shelby's throwing the ball very well,” Matheny said. “But when it comes down to it, it's hard to ignore what Michael did on his last start, and really like the way that he finished and (was) kind of the deciding factor.”
Like Game 2 starter Lance Lynn, Wacha enters the postseason coming off an impressive final month of the season. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound right-hander finished September with a 2-1 record and 1.72 earned-run average in five starts (31 1/3 innings pitched).
Wacha as a starter means Miller will be available out of the bullpen likely as a long reliever.
“He's available, so he'll be available for whatever we need,” Matheny said. “If one of the starters needs help early, we're not going to be shy to get him going and have him come in the game and pitch as long as we need him to. Or if need be, he comes in for a short stint. So he gives us some flexibility there.”
In three road starts, Wacha finished 1-0 with a 3.24 earned-run average.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Blues and Rams for KMOV.com and its associated mobile apps (BaseballStL, HockeyStL and FootballStL). You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and updates.